Magazine Publishers: Looking forward to 2015

[responsive]dpp-headshot[/responsive]Publishing Executive Magazine Interview – December Issue 2014

What should publishers be thinking about when it comes to printing in 2015 and beyond?

If you look back at recent years many sources (largely online content or those who provide digital services/devices, although the mantra has been echoed by those in the print industry) said “Print is Dead” and “Digital is the Future.” Many of these sources note the huge popularity of sites like Buzzfeed, Vox, Upworthy and Flipboard as sites that “satisfy the public’s thirst for news as it happens.”

But these digital news sources are not magazines, not by any stretch of the definition. Immediate news – the kind that newspapers used to deliver to our doorstops – is at a much greater risk of any digital watershed than magazines. Daily news publishing as an industry can’t be easily compared to the magazine industry, either from an editorial standpoint or a business model view, and those who look at the challenges facing the news industry and try to make comparisons to magazines are confusing the issue to a large degree.

The predominant channel through which magazine publishers are making money continues to be print. And the idea that digital will soon be eating print’s lunch is more than a little overstated.

Are you seeing customers doing more things to make their publications special or customized, or are they mostly just trying to produce their products as inexpensively as possible? For example, are they creating more versions of their publications?

We see both approaches from customers. We have many customers who are doing more with their publications. Adding specialized cover coatings, special inserts, tip-ons, bind-in and blow-ins, lots of creative marketing ideas that help them drive additional revenue with their publication.

We also see clients who are solely focused on reducing cost. Those clients are evaluating formats, sizes, substrates and new distribution options. We have clients who are doing very well using both approaches.

In both cases, we are seeing an increased awareness from our clients on the importance of the quality of the content they create; they understand that in a sea of information, their product must excel both editorially and graphically to deliver the results they need.

How do the services you offer to publishers differ from what you were doing five years ago?

They differ greatly. We continue to broaden our options and capabilities to service both the clients who want to do more with their publication along with those who want to simple drive cost out of the process. Our investment strategy has allowed service both by virtually retooling our entire operation with new state of the art equipment. These investments have provided our clients some outstanding opportunities to capitalize on doing more with their publications while taking advantage of our industry leading efficiencies. We also continue to strengthen our digital and mobile offerings which our clients see as additional value added services.

Are you dealing with more customers that don’t understand print processes and specifications than you used to? Are you having to educate customers about printing and distribution more than you used to? If so, how are you addressing these issues?

Being a printing company that has typically serviced the short- to mid-run marketplace we worked closely with our clients; magazine publishers, catalogers and direct marketers. We have always had a consultative approach to doing business with our clients. Our team is focused on helping our clients better understand and streamline their workflow for the print production and distribution of their products. Our clients know they have a partner who will work on their behalf and optimize the entire supply chain from paper procurement, to print production through mailing and distribution.

As printing and mailing technology advances, this kind of partnership is critical. We figure out how to make the technology work to its best advantage for the clients; they trust us to stay on top of this. For example, we use digital preflight and production tools that are state-of-the-art and easy for our clients to use. And we are really proud of our designation as a G7® Master Printer, which means our clients are assured that our workflows are ranked as “best practices” in the industry.

What do you think will happen to the U.S. Postal Service? How viable will it be as a means of distributing publications?

The USPS will continue to be the dominant means for the distribution of our clients’ magazines, catalogs and direct mail products. This distribution model will likely be even more important as both newsstand and brick and mortar retail distribution is struggling. The USPS still process and distributes more than 150 billion pieces of mail annually with close to 90% of that mail being business related. The long term viability of the post office will be dependent on how well they can manage their operating cost without increasing their pricing beyond a sustainable cost for their existing clients. The post office needs to right size their operations to be in line with the current mail volumes. They also need to continue their strategy to diversify their lines of revenue by continuing to grow their package delivery services.

What are some new ways that publishers should be looking to their printers as partners for help, advice, solutions? How are you working with publishers to help them save money, increase efficiencies, and drive revenue?

This is still a relationship business. Publishers should have a print partner who they trust and one who is ultimately interested in helping their clients be successful. We work closely with our clients to truly understand their business and their needs. Many printers say that. We really live it, every day. Every client we have has different business objectives and needs, each is in different situation. We work closely with each and every client and listen to them, we work to build a tailored solution that can meet their needs and can help them move their business forward.